A growing number of couples are turning to divorce mediation before heading to court in an effort to save time and money in an otherwise expensive divorce process.
If the mediation process works, then you're all set. If it doesn't, you can still go back to court to resolve any outstanding issues.
Here are five issues that can be decided ahead of time in a successful mediation:
- Dividing assets. Unlike spouses in court, spouses in mediation enjoy flexibility in dividing their assets in the manner that best meets their respective needs. You and your spouse can decide for yourselves on issues such as ownership, one another's rights and responsibilities, valuation, and how to handle debts or liens.
- Alimony. State law typically outlines several factors for courts, attorneys, and mediators to use in determining how much and for how long alimony should be paid. The difference in your incomes and the length of your marriage are among the factors considered.
- Child support. During mediation, parents can resolve child support issues by collaboratively assessing the child's financial needs, each parent's financial situation, and plans for the child's future. In many states, such as Virginia, mediating parties may agree to deviate from the state child support formula, based on their family's needs. In many states, such as Delaware, the mediator will calculate the appropriate amount of support by using the state child support formula.
- Custody. The child's "best interests" will guide the discussion on custody. Among the child custody issues that can be resolved include day-to-day time-sharing plans; the child's interests, needs, and activities; school holidays; and each parent's work schedule.
- Visitation. When it comes to custody and visitation, things can get touchy between divorcing spouses. If it's too emotionally difficult for you and your ex to be in the room together, it may be possible to conduct the mediation separately through a process called caucusing. The mediator will go back and forth between the parties and shuttle information until an agreement is reached.
For extra guidance on whether divorce mediation is a good fit for you, consider getting in touch with a Chicago-area mediation provider.